After Brain Injury: Driving

A big step in brain injury recovery is driving again. About half of brain injury survivors are able to return to driving. The very nature of brain injuries makes it difficult or impossible for the brain inured person to assess their own readiness to get behind the wheel, for many reasons. Brain injuries can impair judgment and cognition, but even in the absence of these impairments some brain injuries cause a person to have blind spots in their vision that they are totally unaware of. If you or someone you love wants to get back to driving after brain injury, consider getting a professional driving assessment to determine if it is the right time.

Effects of Brain Injury on Driving

Brain injuries can affect your ability to drive in many ways, some of which do not mean you should not drive at all but that you should limit your driving to ideal conditions or simply need some kind of adaptive equipment. Some of the effects brain injury can have on driving include:

  • Memory problems making it difficult to navigate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to maintain a constant position in your lane
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired hand-eye coordination
  • Impaired problem-solving making unexpected conditions, such as road construction and detours difficult or impossible to deal with
  • Impaired judgment and safety awareness
  • Easily distracted
  • Vision problems, including unknown blind spots and loss of periphery vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of depth perception
  • Inability to process visual cues from other drivers
  • Fatigue
  • Physical disabilities

Making Adjustments

Driving is an important part of independent living for most people. Driving impairments caused by brain injuries do not always mean that driving is out of the question. It may simply mean that you need to make some adjustments and limit your driving. You may need to work up to it, with short drives in low traffic areas to start. You may find that you can only drive during the day and for short periods of time. It may be necessary to stay away from freeways and high-stress driving conditions.